Teacher Shortages and Surpluses: Colorado

Teacher Preparation Policy


The state should inform district hiring needs with key teacher supply and demand data and make teacher mobility data publicly available at the district level. This goal was reorganized in 2021.

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2021). Teacher Shortages and Surpluses: Colorado results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/CO-Teacher-Shortages-and-Surpluses-89

Analysis of Colorado's policies

Teacher Production Data: Colorado publishes data on the following: program enrollment, program completers, new teacher employment by district, and the in-state placement rate on the Educator Preparation Program Report Dashboard. These data are available at the institutional and state level. The dashboard also provides data on the "context of employment" for new teachers by institution. These data describe the student demographics taught by new teachers from each institution as well as indicate the accreditation status of the employing districts. Institutional-level data can be compared to the statewide placement of teachers in each student demographic category to determine the gap in the distribution of new teachers.

Colorado also surveys each school administration for information on the number of vacant positions and how those positions are filled. This data is published in the Educator Shortage Survey Results and is also accessible through an interactive dashboard. District-level data is provided by endorsement area (elementary, early childhood etc.) and licenses used to fill shortages (long-term substitutes, retired educators, emergency authorizations, etc.). However, these data are not connected to the state's teacher production data.

Teacher Mobility Data: Colorado makes teacher mobility data by institution publicly available on its Educator Preparation Program Report Dashboard. The state also publishes data on teacher turnover by district.


Recommendations for Colorado

Publish data that connect program supply data to district-level demand data.
Teacher preparation programs graduate more candidates each year than actually earn certification, and only some of those certified are ultimately hired to teach in the state. It is certainly desirable to produce a large enough pool to provide districts a choice in hiring, but a substantial oversupply of teacher candidates in some teaching areas serves neither the profession nor the students well. Colorado is on the right track publishing both teacher production and district-level hiring data. However, the state should strive to connect these data by explicitly highlighting state teacher shortage and surplus areas as well as any regional differences.

State response to our analysis

Colorado was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis. Colorado added that the shortage data from the Educator Shortage Survey allows the state to identify educator shortage areas across the state, provide shortage area data to educator preparation programs and prospective educators, and report to the Colorado Legislature to inform decisions regarding support for recruiting and retaining educators.

Colorado also noted that in addition to the educator shortage survey results report, interactive dashboard and website, the department is collaborating with the Region 12 Comprehensive Center to address the statewide teacher shortage through facilitated data analysis and action planning. Custom-designed Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping is being used to contextualize factors that may be affecting teacher shortage challenges across the state. Using GIS to map a variety of demographic, socioeconomic, and talent management data will support CDE in developing an understanding of the spatial distribution of such factors and their potential correlation with teacher shortage and retention challenges. This project began in February 2020 and GIS maps are expected to be publicly available later in fall 2020. Fall 2020 will also bring a new landing page to the Educator Talent website, the Research and Impact page, which will house all of the research to educator preparation programs, educator shortages, educator effectiveness metrics, educator mobility studies, and other related information. This will facilitate easy linkages across topics related to the educator workforce and make the data easier to locate and use.

Updated: March 2021

How we graded

1B: Teacher Shortages and Surpluses

  • Teacher Supply and Demand Data: The state publicly reports data that connects teacher program supply data to district-level demand data to identify areas of shortage and surplus.
  • Teacher Mobility Data: The state tracks, and makes public, teacher mobility data.
Teacher Supply and Demand Data
Three-quarters of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it publishes data that connect educator preparation program supply data to district-level hiring data to identify areas of shortage and surplus.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it publishes teacher production and district/regional hiring data, but does not explicitly connect the two to explicitly identify areas of shortage and surplus.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it publishes teacher production data or district/regional hiring data.
Teacher Mobility Data
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if teacher mobility data are tracked and made publicly available at the district level, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.

Research rationale

It is an inefficient use of resources for individual districts to build their own data systems for tracking teachers. States need to take the lead and provide districts with state-level data that can be used not only for the purpose of measuring teacher effectiveness, but also to gauge the supply and demand of teachers in the state.[1] Furthermore, multiple years of data are necessary to identify staffing trends.

Many preparation programs graduate people who are certified to teach but do not get jobs in the classroom. Often times, this is because these teachers pursue certifications in areas that already have a surplus of teachers (e.g., elementary education), while districts struggle to find applicants to hire in other areas (e.g., special education, science).[2] Given this misalignment between the teachers that teacher preparation programs produce and the hiring needs of school districts, the state should step in to establish a cohesive data reporting system. By creating reports that publicly delineate the number of teachers produced by each teacher preparation program (and therefore by certification area), the state will be better able to identify instances where the production of teachers does not match districts' needs.

Furthermore, the state should consider whether teacher preparation programs are supplying districts with the teachers they need when approving or re-approving programs. Teacher preparation programs exist primarily to prepare teachers for public school positions (approximately 88 percent of teachers work in public schools).[3] If teacher preparation programs produce far more teachers than the state needs in some certification areas and far too few in others, the programs are failing to meeting their state's demand. Moreover, student teaching placements (which tend to be near candidates' teacher prep programs) are highly predictive of where candidates will get their first teaching jobs, therefore also allowing states the ability to predict which open positions are likely to be filled.[4] Given that the preparation program's function is to supply the nearby area (and more generally, the state) with public school teachers, it is incumbent upon the state to make sure the program fulfills that responsibility, particularly through the collection and application of data on teacher production numbers and district demand.

Additional elements are needed to use data to assess teacher supply and demand. For example, states should include in their data systems means of tracking when teachers leave schools or districts, as well as when they re-enter new ones, and should make these data publicly available. These data can support the state's effort to build a cohesive picture of the state's teacher labor market and workforce needs.

[1] Cowan, J., Goldhaber, D., Hayes, K., & Theobald, R. (2016). Missing elements in the discussion of teacher shortages. Retrieved from http://www.caldercenter.org/missing-elements-discussion-teacher-shortages.
[2] Cowan, J., Goldhaber, D., Hayes, K., & Theobald, R. (2016). Missing elements in the discussion of teacher shortages. CALDER. Retrieved from http://www.caldercenter.org/missing-elements-discussion-teacher-shortages.
[3] National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Table 208.20: Public and private elementary and secondary teachers, enrollment, pupil/teacher ratios, and new teacher hires: Selected years, fall 1955 through fall 2025. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_208.20.asp.
[4] Krieg, J. M., Theobald, R., & Goldhaber, D. (2016). A foot in the door: Exploring the role of student teaching assignments in teachers' initial job placements. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 38(2), 364-388.